This French It girl has a makeup collaboration with Nars

This French It girl has a makeup collaboration with Nars

Painted faces

Text: Renée Batchelor

Known for her daring film roles and her less-is-more, cool girl style, actress and singer Charlotte Gainsbourg now has a Nars makeup collection to add to her impressive resume

It's no secret that we're fans of French beauty. We've written about Jeanne Damas' beauty style and waxed lyrical about the great buys at French pharmacies. Unlike their American counterparts, French women tend to be pretty understated when it comes to their makeup. So no one was more surprised than Charlotte Gainsbourg when she was approached by Nars to create a makeup collection, since she is known for her pared-down, no-makeup look. But Nars founder François Nars thought she was the perfect muse for the brand. He said, "Her allure is all in the uncompromising power of her personal style. It's very cool and authentic, very French. But there is real inspiration in how she moves through the world. Like her lyrics, her voice, her mix of presence and humility, she is herself, through and through." 

The daughter of British actress and model Jane Birkin and French actor and singer Serge Gainsbourg, she was perhaps always slated for her rightful place in pop culture. A brave onscreen presence and a talented musician, Gainsbourg has carved her own niche in a field that her famous parents also inhabited... not an easy task. Her latest endeavour may be a 360°, but still bears her sleek imprint. The makeup collaboration is a well-edited collection of muted colours like barely-there cheek and lip stains, kohl liners and a refreshing gel-cream. The pièce de résistance? A sleek makeup brush set in an elegant roll case. Find out more about the creation process for Gainsbourg, the classic beauties she admires and how her favourite colours — army green, dark grey and dark blue — found their way into the palette.

What was your first impression when you learned Nars was interested in collaborating with you on a collection?
I was flattered and quite excited because it was such an unusual request for me, I don't typically wear a lot of makeup, so I was surprised that François Nars chose me for a collaboration. 

Why did you decide to work with Nars? What drew you to the brand?
I've always loved the brand. First for the packaging that was so elegant and unusual. When I was younger, I didn't put anything on my face but aesthetically the color palette always seemed beautiful. My sister Kate first introduced me to the brand. As a photographer, she was enthusiastic about the products. Then, thanks to makeup artists, I tried more and more products and loved them all. 

What was your first introduction to the brand and François Nars?
During a photo shoot together in New York. I was just about to move there and François was very friendly about it. He was so warm and caring. The photoshoot itself took about five minutes, I was delighted!

Charlotte Gainsbourg
What was the collaborative process like in creating this collection?
First it was a question of evaluating what I wished for and what François was expecting. He made me feel so comfortable — I could do anything I wanted as long as it came from me, something personal. So that's what I did, created this collection around my exact beauty needs.

How did you select the colours and products for the collection?
The colours came later. First it was a question of what kind of product. I couldn't go toward something that was opposite of me, so it had to be quite natural. And, in the end colours were sort of obvious for me, nothing flashy, just tinted. Emotional, if possible — my references had to do with actresses in films, so a natural cheek, redness from crying, running... things that move me.

Do you have a favorite colour or product from the collection?
The brushes are my favourite.

How did you choose the names of the products?
That was fun! Letting yourself pour words out. My past, visions, impressions, names, places, emotions.
Charlotte Gainsbourg for Nars
Is there a story or theme behind the collection? What was your overall inspiration in creating the collection?
The stuff I need in my bag, what I hope to buy, a bit of this with a bit of that. And my favorite colors army green, dark grey and dark blue. And on top of that, natural and effortless!

How would you compare the creative process of designing a makeup line to that of composing a song?
It feels completely different. First of all, for Nars, there were 10 of us sitting around a table, exchanging ideas. The feeling was lighthearted and easy. Fabien Baron was also wonderful to work with, suggesting that I could trust my instincts and didn't have to look too far. They were making it sound as if anything was possible. A song for me is a quiz, implausible and mysterious.

Where do you find inspiration?
With instincts, trusting them in the end. Wanting to be carried by them.

What is your definition of beauty?
There is no definition. That's what's beautiful!

Who are your beauty icons?
My mother (Jane Birkin), Charlotte Rampling and Brigitte Bardot.

What do you look for in makeup?
It depends on whether it's for a shoot or real life. Films tend to get closer to real life, so for those, anything that will seem natural, erasing a few signs of age.

Tell us about your typical makeup and skincare regimen and why it works for you?
I tend to use skincare from Biologique Recherche. I come back to it each time I wander off and try out new things. I should know by now that that never works for me. Then it's really just a question of camouflaging dark circles a little (not too much), spots, and giving myself a little life in the cheeks. In the morning it's too early for me to enhance lashes or lips, that can happen later in the day.

Do you have a favourite Nars product?
The Jungle Red Lip Liner Pencil, Aigle Noir Soft Touch shadow pencil, #10 Powder Brush and Yachiyo Kabuki Brush.

What was the first beauty product you ever wore?
Borotalco talcum powder and creme de huit heures for the lips.

What is one beauty product you can't leave the house without?
Smith's lip balm.

What is the best beauty advice you've ever received?
Don't put too much on.

What projects are you working on next?
A French film directed by Arnaud Desplechin and my album to finish.

Can you tell us your favorite...?
Place to travel: Japan
Must have travel essential: Any keepsakes from my children and tea
Designer: Anthony Vaccarello Saint Laurent
Food: Spaghetti vongole
Place to shop: Food at Union Square
City: New York
Music: Chopin
Book: A good Thesaurus
Movie: Some Like It Hot
Fragrance: Shalimar on my mother

From $40-$260. Available at Nars counters and the Nars 391 Orchard Boutique from May 2017